The Media Crackdown in the Andean Region: The Case of Ecuador

July 19, 2017
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

About the Event

Ecuador’s media landscape has changed drastically from the time Rafael Correa came to power, with more than 2,000 recorded attacks against journalists during his 10-year rule. Throughout his tenure, President Correa has consistently labeled the press as the opposition and tightened his grip on the media through the use of censorship and propaganda. This systematic closing of space for freedom of expression and the constant maligning of the journalism profession has fractured Ecuador’s media environment. However, with the recent election of Lenín Moreno as president, it is worth examining whether attacks on the media will continue. Ecuadorian media activist César Ricaurte has documented the story of how his media watchdog organization, FUNDAMEDIOS, navigated a hostile media environment in his forthcoming book El Aguante: Historias de la Resistencia Democrática en un País Autoritario. (Endurance: Stories of the Democratic Resistance in an Authoritarian Country). In his presentation, he explored the challenges presented by authoritarian populism and outlined the societal impact of this type of regime. Mr. Ricaurte focused on the ways in which Correa’s administration used propaganda and censorship against media outlets and what this means for the future of Ecuador’s media. NED Program Officer Don Podesta provided comments following Ricaurte’s presentation.


César Ricaurte

Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

Don Podesta

National Endowment for Democracy

moderated by

Fabiola Cordova

National Endowment for Democracy

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About the speakers

César Ricaurte is co-founder and executive director of the NED-supported Andean Foundation for Social Observation and Study of the Media (FUNDAMEDIOS), Ecuador’s first civil society organization devoted to the protection of free speech. He has actively denounced his government’s attacks on freedom of the press, including by way of testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and as a result he has been a frequent target of official harassment. In 2012, the Argentine publishing house Perfil awarded him an International Freedom of the Press Prize, and the Inter-American Press Association granted him its Grand Prize for Press Freedom. During his fellowship, Mr. Ricaurte is writing his book examining the Ecuadorian government’s systematic assault on freedom of expression, including the stigmatization of journalists, NGOs, and independent media.

Don Podesta is a program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy, concentrating on Ecuador and Bolivia. Previously he was the manager and editor at the Center for International Media Assistance at the NED. Before coming to the Endowment, Mr. Podesta was an assistant managing editor at the Washington Post, where he also served as the paper’s news editor and deputy foreign editor. From 1992 to 1994, he was the Post’s correspondent in South America, covering Peru’s war against the Shining Path guerrilla movement; presidential elections in Bolivia, Chile, and Paraguay; the drug violence in Colombia; and several economic, social, and environmental issues in Brazil and Argentina.

Fabiola Cordova is associate director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy. Since joining the Endowment in 2005, she has managed programs across the region, and now oversees NED’s grant portfolio in the Andes and cross-country initiatives. In her current position, she works with civil society organizations to strengthen their institutional capacity, and support their efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and values. Previously, Ms. Cordova worked at the National Democratic Institute, where she managed projects focusing on election observation and political party strengthening. She holds a BA in International Relations from Clark University, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.